A Little Curiosity Reveals a Big Secret

As is often the case with old homes, they hold many secrets. Main Street is not quick to reveal her secrets, and we don’t often pry them from her. She instead gives us a glimpse, like shimmer of burried treasure, then leaves us hunting for more.

Today, was no exception. 

We believe Main Street was built some time in the early 1930s. There was an addition put on later, perhaps the mid 1950s. The 1950s also brought vinyl floors and acoustic ceiling tiles throughout the house, and the pink tile in the second bathroom. As much as I love the pink tile, I’ve never been fond of the acoustic ceiling tiles.

Halloween is quickly approaching and we’d finally taken the opportunity to pull our decorations from the storage cubbies above the closets. While Gabriel was up on the ladder pulling out a tote, he noticed the ceiling in the cubby was ship lap, just like our walls. His beautifully curious mind questioned if there was a possibility there may be ship lap under the acoustic ceiling tiles. 

“No way”, I responded. I just don’t feel that lucky really. I tend toward pessimistic realism. He, being the dreamer, suggested we just remove one tile to see if it was possible. I relented and said to try the White Bathroom. You know, the one we’ve been trying to remodel for the past 2 years? Here is the ceiling as it stood. I’d chosen the wall color from a paint chip I found durring demolition of the bathroom.

The result, made us both giddy like school girls.

His face says it all. Ship lap. The entire ceiling. Also, you can see the similarity in color to the walls. This must have been where the color on the paint chip came from. 

We went on to test most of the remaining ceilings in the old section of the house and all revealed ship lap. .

So we high fived, danced a bit, then cleaned up the mess. 

I’m still skeptical that the ceilings are going to be salvageable, but if they are this will save us thousands of dollars and will be the kind of ceiling Main Street deserves. I gotta say, today was a good day.


Tile Death Do Us Part

Our home on Main Street has certainly presented us with many opportunities to overcome our fears.  It has also provided gentle reminders when we procrastinate.  For instance: the ever expanding cracks in the walls of the pink bathroom.

Some days I fully ignore the cracks. Other days I notice them and somehow convince myself they haven’t grown…much.  Other days, I fear that my demise will be met when I step in for my daily ablution and the entire shower stall detaches from the house in gloriously horrific fashion.  I don’t want to be killed by vintage pink tile. I just don’t.

The Pink Bathroom after toilet installation

A recent vocalization of shared fear between my husband and I spawned the long overdue start for renovations to the white bathroom. Below is the white bathroom as it stood when we purchased Main Street.

The white bathroom on day 1.

Yes, our house has two bathrooms.  No, neither of them is truly in any condition to be considered functional.  We have every intention of renovating the pink bathroom, eventually, but before we can take on that monumental task we need to ensure that we have one functioning bathroom.  My husband, who is far more brave than I could ever hope to be, volunteered to go into the crawl space to assess the scope of damage under the pink bathroom.  Judging from the expressions of horror and disbelief emanating from under the house during his investigation, it became apparent that we need to begin working on the alternate bathroom posthaste.  Thus, we commenced with deconstruction in the white bathroom.

You may recall from an earlier post, we liberated the pedestal tub from its captor, a dastardly pony wall covered in plastic tile.  Deconstruction of this pony wall revealed black bullnose plastic tile around the perimeter of the tub surround.  My intention is to replicate the previous design but with real tile. We plan to use a black bullnose border around white subway tile as the tub surround, then black and white hex tile on the floor. It’s intimidating. But, compared to what we will face when renovating the pink bathroom, tile work in the white bathroom seems like it will be a walk in the park.

Prep work is underway as you can see. The toilet, sink and flooring have been removed.  You can see a rather large area of sub floor has an earlier patch around the toilet.  Judging by what I see when inspecting the toilet drain, as well as the existing damage to the wall behind the toilet, it must have been a colossal plumbing catastrophe. We plan to install a new toilet and vanity.  I have a side project going on for the vanity replacement, but that will be a separate entry.

White Bathroom, flooring, toilet, sink and accessories removed.

Once the shutoff valves for the tub inlets are installed we will remove and refinish the cast iron behemoth that is our tub, then move on to installing the new floor. Keep your fingers crossed for us. This room will set the tone for renovations throughout the home as we attempt to pay homage to the home’s history while bringing it up to date.

The Longest Yard

South Carolina Summers can be brutal.  The payoff comes this time of year, when it’s typically about 60-65 degrees during the day.  Mild weather means we get to bust our humps out in the yard, again.

Since we moved to Main Street we’ve eradicated a lot of the intrusive overgrown vegetation within a few feet of the house.  Most recently our efforts have been concentrated on the area between our property and our neighbors’ property.  Most of the invasive growth is now under wraps thanks to an enterprising man with a Thrash Mower.  Who knew that was a thing?  It just sounds like an awesome Metal band.

Here is a picture from just shortly after we bought the house.  The picture is taken from further back than the others in this post, but it best conveys the insane amount of overgrowth we were dealing with.

Plants Gone Wild!

Here is what the area looked like after we knocked down some of the vegetation but before the Thrash Mower had its way:

Better, but still a long way to go.

This is what a Thrash Mower can accomplish in just a few hours:

Cleared and ready for a makeover.

Now we have to work on suppression.  We’ve been attacking this area on and off for the last year and hadn’t made a dent.  Feeling much more optimistic now.  So optimistic that I decided to draw up a planting arrangement.  I only had pen and crayons, but it gets the point across.  My goal is to have low maintenance plants that will die back in Winter or that can be cut back to the ground once per year.  This will allow us to keep up with the invasive species that have made this part of the yard their home for the past decades.

I’m no artist, but it gets the job done.

Eventually we will add some evergreen vegetation like Ajuga to crowd out the weeds.  This area has been dominated by azaleas for decades.  They were overgrown, unhealthy and they only flower for about a week per year.  Time to move on.

The new garden will provide months of colorful blooms that will be attractive to hummingbirds, as well as other birds, and bees.  Once established, the plants selected will need little to no care. Over time we will have opportunities to add additional flowers, ground covers, etc.

I’ll post an update once implementation is well under way in the Spring.  Do you have any suggestions for plants you think would work well here?  Zone 8-8b, east side of the house, mostly shade.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What’s Old is Old Again

Have you ever been rummaging and had one of those moments where you see a hidden gem then try not to look too obvious as you glance around to make sure no one else is paying attention to the fact that you just totally scored? Well I went full on Gollum at my local Habitat for Humanity Restore last weekend. 

Here is why:

See it? See it? 

I had a sneaking suspicion that under that awful layer of new textured white spray paint I would find a pair of vintage barn lights with the old original green porcelain finish. You can see a spot on the lamp that’s had some of the white paint scratched off revealing the green porcilain beneath. 

Yes, it’s the precious. 

Two hours, a little paint stripper and some elbow grease and voila!

They are in nearly perfect condition and only cost $5.00 for the pair. I’ll have to rewire them since they have the old cloth covered wires, but they are well worth the effort. 

Now, where to install them…?

Can You Dig It?

It’s been far too long since my last post.  That isn’t to say that there hasn’t been a lot of the usual activities going on.

Summers in SC are fairly brutal and our lovely Homeowners Insurance Company has  set a lofty goal for us to meet by September, less we face their wrath. Therefore we’ve been busting our humps on exterior projects.

The best part is that it means we have been working outside on 100 degree days.  Thank you insurance company.  Oh, and our AC has been dysfunctional for the past 5 weeks so it’s been as hot as 93 degrees inside our house.  Another big thanks to our Home Warranty Company.  Someone really needs to create a “sarcasm” font.

Thus, below you will see before and after pictures of some of the progress that we’ve made.  Note the window unit air conditioners speckled here and there.  They may not be pretty, but neither am I when I’ve been in a non air conditioned house in Summer.  So there.

This is what our home looked like the day we bought it.

This is what our home looked like the day we bought it.  The vegetation surrounding the home was completely overgrown and in pretty sad shape.  The pecan tree to the left of the screen was very unhealthy and had grown so close to the front of the home that it was damaging the front roof peak.  You can’t see the level of damage in this picture, but it had pulled off the aluminum fascia and part of the roof.

It’s a little rainy today, but you get the idea. My amazing husband replaced the aluminum fascia and patched the roof. 

The pecan tree was cut into big sections that have become natural planters along the front of our property. We salvaged some brick and used it to line the edge of a new flower beds that flanks the entry sidewalk. We widdled the vegetation with a homemade natural herbicide and a lot of manual labor. I wanted to make sure we weren’t harming the land, so we had to really work for it. 

Here is another good example of how overgrown the vegetation was. There are a set of old steps that were revealed after some extensive vegetation eradication. 

The steps lead into what is now our dining room. The old doorway was turned into a bookshelf. We didn’t even notice this until we saw the steps. Clever.

The original door frame was left in place. If you look on the left side of the frame  you can still see where the hinges used to be. This picture also illustrates our lack of flooring. But that’s another topic.

Something Old Is Something New

We have an overnight guest coming tomorrow. So what does that mean? That means we spent the majority of our Saturday trying to make Main Street look like a living space instead of a construction zone.

I figured today would be fraught with nothing but scrubbing, vacuuming, and turning a storage space into a guest bedroom. We did manage to get a few cabinet doors hung in the kitchen, installed the Murphy bed, readied both guest bedrooms (overachiever?), and tackled a surprise project.

What’s the surprise? A freaking headboard. Yeah, we made a headboard.


We had this old rotting door in the garage from who knows what. It is only 60 inches tall so it wouldn’t be useful for anything but decoration. The door was attached to part of the jamb, had 2 hinges and a handle on each side. I kept the jamb intact and used the handles as brackets to turn it into a small shelf.



I kept most of the character  (aka: dirt, rust, chipping paint) intact. Just wiped with a dry cloth, gave it a once over with the vacuum and two coats of water based polyurethane. Stoked. We must have high fived at least four times during the process.

Sometimes, when you have been in some state of remodeling your house for well, the whole time you’ve lived there, you can lose sight of how important it is to just make it your home. We didn’t sister any joists or run new electrical today, but I feel just as accomplished.

50 Shades of…Green?

I love a home improvement project that can be completed in a weekend. Unfortunately, most of our products don’t fall into that category. One project that’s been ongoing from the beginning is the kitchen.

Check out my previous post “S.O.S. Save Old Sinks”, for an early kitchen face lift. Since then we’ve been busy with lots of other projects, some in the kitchen.

Recently added to the “finished” list is the kitchen floor. The old sheet vinyl was ripped and quickly becoming a hazard. Removing it was a full day of work. Then we were left with press board subfloor.


I’d seen some pictures online where other DIYers had simply painted their subfloor. I was sold. As far as new flooring options go it was by far the least expensive. I though, what the heck? It’s just some paint and polyurethane. If it doesn’t work I still have perfectly good sub floor.

After removing the sheet vinyl we cleaned and primed the sub floor. Next we laid down our base color, a nice chartreuse. Yes, I like chartreuse. It’s amazing how many variations there are on the color green. It is so important to bring your paint swatches to the room you are painting before you chose the color. Some of the colors I loved in the store looked completely different when I got them home.

After two coats of chartreuse I laid out a grid pattern with painters tape to make one foot squares (approximately). Inside of each square I used a stencil and the paint I’d bought for the cabinets, walls and trim to add a pattern. I figured with the uneven texture of the floor and the amount of ware it gets that a pattern would help to hide scuffs and imperfections.


I think I did a million squats. Well, it felt like a million squats. Anyway, after the paint dried we put on 2 coats of water based polyurethane. It’s important to get the non yellowing polyurethane. And here’s the finished floor.


Ooooh, shiny.

We painted the walls a mellow sort of beige and the trim white. Since the cabinets are a pretty awesome shade of Oscar the Grouch I wanted to keep the walls and trim neutral. We are not quite finished with the cabinets, so I’ll post more on that later. Ok, so maybe there are only two shades of green.